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30 Jun | 2021

Marc Suárez-Calvet, head of the BBRC Group of Biomarkers in Fluids and Translational Neurology

Dr. Marc Suárez-Calvet has been appointed head of the new Biomarkers Group in Fluids and Translational Neurology at the Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center (BBRC). With the launch of this new team, the Pasqual Maragall Foundation’s research center is strengthening its lines of work for the prevention and early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

The goal of the new group is to conduct translational research to develop biomarkers, discover new therapeutic targets, and provide a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, and has two main lines of research.

The first is the creation of a state-of-the-art laboratory focused on the development, validation and application of new biomarkers that improve the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases in their earliest stages. These biomarkers will also be useful for detecting people most likely to develop the disease, predict their prognosis, monitor disease progression and treatment effectiveness, or be used as surrogate markers in clinical trials.

The second will be based on the execution of the HeBe project, derived from the ERC Starting Grant received by Dr. Suárez-Calvet last year, which aims to identify blood factors that have a rejuvenating or aging effect on the brain and can therefore become therapeutic targets for Alzheimer's disease.

As Dr. Suárez-Calvet explains “It is a privilege to lead the research group at the BBRC as it is an international reference center in the study of the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s. We will work to detect biological markers that provide information about the alterations that occur in the brain related to the risk of developing the disease, so that in a short time, we can detect it with a blood test. Our dual status as clinicians and basic researchers allows us to have a vision of research in which the person living with Alzheimer's is always at the center”.

More research

With the creation of this new line of work, the Pasqual Maragall Foundation’s research center is strengthening its Alzheimer’s Prevention Program, and already has three groups: Clinical Research, Biomarkers and Risk Factors; the Neuroimaging Research and the Fluid Biomarkers and Translational Neurology.

In the words of the Director of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation and the BBRC, Dr. Arcadi Navarro: “This new group positions our center at the forefront of Alzheimer’s research. At the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, we continue to grow thanks to the support of more than 45,000 members, donors and patrons who bring us closer to our goal of achieving a world without Alzheimer's."

BBRC research focuses on the preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, an asymptomatic period that begins years before clinical symptoms appear. To identify the early pathophysiological events associated with this stage and to develop primary and secondary prevention programs, the BBRC launched the Alfa Study in 2012, thanks to the support of the "la Caixa" Foundation. The study consisted of a cohort of more than 2,700 cognitively healthy participants, aged between 45 and 74 years. In addition, the BBRC has other projects such as the Barcelonaβeta Dementia Prevention Clinical Research Unit, the PENSA Study and the AMYPAD.

About Dr. Marc Suárez-Calvet

Dr. Suárez-Calvet has a degree in Medicine (UAB) and Biochemistry (UB), specializing in Neurology at the Hospital de la Santa Creu and Sant Pau in Barcelona, and a Doctor cum laude (UAB). He joined the BBRC in 2018 where he led research on new blood biomarkers in neurodegenerative diseases, in collaboration with the Sahlgrenska Academy (University of Gothenburg), thanks to a grant from the Marie Sklodowkska-Curie Fellowship program. In addition, in 2020, the European Research Council (ERC) awarded him an ERC Starting Grant to lead the HeBe project.

He previously worked as a researcher in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Munich and at the Dementia Research Center at University College London. Throughout his career he has combined clinical experience with intense activity as a basic researcher, as demonstrated by publications in high-impact journals such as Science Translational Medicine, EMBO Molecular Medicine, Acta Neuropathologica or Neuron.
In addition to his research work at the BBRC, he is a clinical neurologist at the Hospital del Mar (Barcelona), specializing in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.